When you wake up in the morning, what is the passion that fuels you to start your day? Are you living this in your work? If others asked you what drives you to achieve, would the answer be obvious? The triggers that motivate people to achieve are unique for everyone. Many would say its money; more people are starting to claim that they are driven to make a difference. Regardless of what motivates you and drives you to reach peak performance - it must be managed and balanced. Too much motivation in one area will weaken other parts of your game.
Motivation has been studied for decades and leaders in the workplace have used assessments like DISC and Myers-Briggs to determine their employee’s personality types to better anticipate behaviors and tendencies. Additionally, motivational books are used as tools to get employees to increase their performance and / or get them back on track. While assessments, books and other tools can help project and inspire short and long performance, the factors that motivate employees to achieve evolve as they mature and begin to truly understand what matters most to them. Therefore, as leaders we must hold ourselves accountable to build meaningful and purposeful relationships that matter with our employees. This allows us to better understand those we are serving, just as much as ourselves.
As a leader, don’t just read the assessment scores, get to know those whom you are leading and be specific about how you help each of them achieve their goals, desires and aspirations. The objective should be to help one another and to accomplish this each of you must identify those things that motivate you both to work together.
To help you get the most from your employee relationships, here are the nine (9) things that ultimately motivate employees to achieve. As you read this, think of how you associate with each of them. Share your story and perspectives – and comment about it. This is a hot topic and the more we can discuss it, we can help one another become better leaders.
1. Trustworthy Leadership
Leaders that have your back and that are looking out for your best interests – will win the trust of their employees who in turn will be more motivated to achieve. I once had a department manager that always looked out for me. He was upfront in communicating his performance expectations and his feedback was direct. He never treated me like a subordinate and looked for ways to include me in senior management meetings. This opened my eyes to what lied ahead in my career and thus motivated me to reach the next level and in the process exceed the expectations of my boss.
Trust is a powerful motivational tool and those leaders that are more transparent with their employees will find surprising results and new types of opportunities to develop talent.
2. Being Relevant
In today’s world where everyone wants to be noticed and recognized for their work - employees are motivated to achieve to remain relevant. As such, employees are in search of new ways to learn, improve their skills and invest in themselves. This is an opportunity for leaders to get involved and understand how to build the depth and breadth of their employee’s skill sets and aptitudes. For example, find ways to elevate your employees’ high-potential status.
Helping employees increase their relevancy is important and those leaders that participate in this process will help cultivate increased performance levels and loyalty. Helping your employees get discovered will elevate their motivation to achieve.
3. Proving Others Wrong
This particular motivation to achieve has been heighten as of late from younger professionals that seek to prove themselves faster amongst older generations in the workplace. Employees never want to be stereotyped or marginalized, but for many younger professionals this serves as the trigger to awaken them from within. This certainly is not a generational issue as many of us have been questioned about our ability to achieve at a high-level. I learned this the hard way throughout my career. For example, as a former C-level executive (in my early 30’s) and later as a successful entrepreneur - people begin to envy and / or doubt me thus igniting my hunger and drive to over achieve. As a leader, encourage your employees to exceed expectations by taking responsible risks. Embrace diverse thinking and measure one’s ability to innovate. Never underestimate an employee’s ability to perform until you have properly evaluated and tested their abilities and potential.
4. Career Advancement
Perhaps the most important factor on this list is the ability to advance. Employees are extremely motivated to achieve if this means that advancement awaits them. This requires employees to be mindful of opportunities that lie around, beneath and beyond what they seek. As leaders, you will sustain high levels of motivation from your employees if you can open doors of opportunity and accelerate their chances for advancement. Remember, just because your employees may be relevant, it doesn’t guarantee advancement. So make it a point to help them get there.
How proficient are you at seeing and seizing opportunity? If you haven’t taken my assessment, I suggest that you do (click here). Over 200,000 people have taken it and less than 1% of them have ever scored over 35.
5. No Regrets
People only have a few real chances in their careers to reach their ultimate goals. In fact, how many times do you meet people that are more successful than you are and you wonder how they got there. People don’t want to live with any regrets in their career/life and thus are motivated to not disappoint themselves.
As a leader, don’t allow your employees to walk around carrying a load of guilt. Share your journey with them – your failures and successes. An employee that doesn’t believe will never achieve. Help your employees embrace the unexpected and help them navigate uncertainty and change. Many people are confused in today’s workplace about their future. Motivate them by giving them the perspectives they need to achieve.
6. Stable Future
People are motivated to have safety and security. Everyone wants a stable future, but you never know when time will pass you by. That’s why we are all in a race against time and thus motivated to achieve faster than ever before. We have all learned from the 2008 economic collapse that we can all quickly become victims of unexpected change without preparation.
As a leader, be mindful of providing security and stability in how you lead your employees – and watch their motivational levels rise.
This factor is quite interesting and extremely important to put into proper perspective. People are motivated for selfish reasons to achieve – albeit money, attention, fame, etc. Must we be reminded that greed and selfishness contributed greatly to America’s current economic hardship? Motivation that satisfies our self-indulgence is can also be risky. In reminds me of a great quote from Peter Drucker in his book, “The Effective Executive” when he says that every time you meet a person with great strengths, you are also meeting someone with great weaknesses.
As a leader, be aware that of your employees motivations are balance and well intentioned. Self-indulgence can bring tremendous short term benefits – with longer term repercussions.
As mentioned earlier on, today’s employees are motivated to achieve more than ever simply by the opportunity to create impact. As employees reflect on their lives and careers – they want to contribute in ways that measure their achievements based upon the long-term benefits that the company they serve bears.
As a leader, allow your employees to have sustainable impact in the work they perform. Allow them to make a mark toward significance. Create the opportunity for their achievement to leave a long lasting legacy that rewards the organization they serve and for future generations to learn from.
In the end, happiness is one of the greatest motivations to achieve. Happiness fuels ones self-esteem and gives people hope for a better tomorrow. We are all victims of taking our work too seriously. Step back and enjoy the journey. Your motivation to achieve is ultimately based on earning a living that brings you tremendous joy and satisfaction.
As a leader, be aware of whether your employees are satisfied in their work and that you are deliberate in having this type conversation with them. Never assume. Employees will smile to save their jobs even if they aren’t content. Assure your employees happiness shines and allow the previous eight motivational factors to influence the process organically.